NATIONAL MEAT ASSOCIATION h 1970 Broadway, Suite 825, Oakland, CA 94612

(510) 763-1533 Fax (510) 763-6186 h Email Address: [email protected] h

Edited by Kiran Kernellu

September 23, 2002




It is important to maintain a cold environment in meat plants to restrict microbial growth. An ever-present problem is the removal of heat from product without causing contamination from condensation. Members may find the following useful and practical.


Condensation, in and of itself, is not necessarily a contaminant. Some people have literally tested drops of condensation for pathogens and have not found them. Condensate that drops from clean surfaces is simply not a contaminant. If the surface is one that is maintained in a clean form, the condensate is simply minute amounts of clean water. This will occur on cooking hoods, on packaging lines, and may even occur on a ceiling that is cleaned frequently.


The controlling USDA/FSIS regulation is CFR 416.2(d) published October 20, 1999, in the Sanitation section that states:


 Ventilation. Ventilation adequate to control odors, vapors, and condensation to the extent necessary to prevent adulteration of product and the creation of insanitary conditions must be provided.”


USDA/FSIS issued an important notice on the subject of Condensation Policy, and it is still available even though it is technically cancelled by the CFR above. It is FSIS Notice 31-98 dated 9-10-98. NMA will provide a copy to interested persons.


The Technical Center has advised us that it remains the policy of the agency and they consider condensation issues within the scope of SSOPs and sanitation performance standards. Is it a zero tolerance standard? The Technical Center said that is not the agency’s position. It really comes down to whether the condensate that may drop on exposed product does, de facto, adulterate it, and this may have a lot to do with the cleanliness of the surfaces on which the condensate formed.




In a 2001 report, Mintel Consumer Intelligence found that only 2.5% of Americans are strict vegetarians, according to Fox News. Fox News recently report that some vegetarians are starting to eat meat, citing such reasons as limited choices at restaurants, and a yearning for the good taste of meat. Beth Hertz said that she was tired of being a “buzz-kill” at dinner parties. Cristina Moracho said she could no longer hold out while her friends barbecued. “It smelled so good. Soon I was begging for my own hamburger,” she said. American Meat Institute (AMI) Vice President Janet Riley advises vegetarians not to feel guilty about the occasional Whopper or Big Mac!


Dieticians say that meat, in moderation, is healthy. “It’s an important source of iron, magnesium, zinc, [and] B12. If you overdo it you can get yourself in a fattened state, but you can do that with anything,” said Dr. Ruth Kava, director of nutrition for the American Council on Science and Health.


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Former Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman has joined the Board of Directors of Green Circle Organics, LLC. According to their website (, Green Circle Organics is a “network of small family ranchers…considered by many to be the premier producers of certified organic beef in the Nation.” reported that the company is preparing to introduce a new line of products to coincide with the full implementation of the USDA national organic standards on October 21.

Glickman was key in leading the implementation strategy of the National Organic Standards Act. Bill Cole, president of Green Circle Organics, dubbed Glickman “the father of the national organic standard” and “a tremendous asset” to Green Circle. Glickman, currently director of the Institute of Politics at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, said of Green Circle Organics, “It’s great to be working with early adopters of the national organic standard as a new generation of farmers and ranchers blend their concern for the environment with their commitment to quality food.” 



The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) has launched its newest promotional tool using checkoff dollars. As part of the $2.8 million Beef Summer Grilling Program, NCBA created cart mats that fit into the bottom of a grocery cart and feature images of steaks and the slogan, “Do you have everything to get your grill on?” The Beef Summer Grilling Program’s key message, “Steak. Get Your Grill On,” is extended by the cart mats that can be found on thirty grocery carts in each of ten Jewel-Osco stores in Chicago, IL.


The cart mats are a new tool being tested this month exclusively through Jewel-Osco for effectiveness and practicality. NCBA recognized the need for a new marketing tool to distinguish the beef message from the plethora of others delivered to consumers today. Bernie Thon, manager of retail promotions for NCBA, said, “[W]e designed the cart mat as a constant reminder to consumers to pick up steak before leaving the grocery store…[This] is yet another way we’re able to work with retailers to increase beef sales…” Mike Lubke, Jewel-Osco Fresh Meat Sales Manager, said, “We are pleased to partner with the NCBA as they develop new and efficient ways for us to sell beef to our customers.”




Checkoff dollars have funded diverse activities this summer. According to Western Livestock Journal, the $1-per-head beef checkoff funds the management of negative issues in the media, conducting new product development, food safety research, as well as marketing activities like media tours. NCBA has enjoyed “strong participation” by state beef councils and retail grocery stores in expanding its latest marketing venture, the Beef Summer Grilling Program. The program, designed to deliver the message, “Steak is ‘The King of the Grill,” was utilized by 34 state beef councils and 6,000 retail grocery stores, including Wal-Mart, Albertson’s, Safeway and Kroger. Some 3,700 floor graphics, 109,000 cart signs, 800 window posters, millions of brochures and recipes, point of sale and radio advertising, and even a targeted website ( have been employed in the program! Alan Hess, Chairman of NCBA’s Retail Committee, said, “this integrated campaign has elements that work together to give us the maximum bang for our checkoff dollar.”




The American Meat Science Association (AMSA) honored the following individuals in 2002:


v      Donald H. Beerman, University of Nebraska-Lincoln – Signal Service Award

v      David E. Schafer, Kansas State University -

Signal Service Award

v      William J. Costello, South Dakota State University - Signal Service Award

v      Eero Puolanne, University of Helsinki – International Award

v      Larry L. Borchert, University of Wisconsin – R.C. Pollock Award

v      Alden M. Booren, Michigan State University – Meat Processing Award

v      Morse B. Solomon, Agricultural Research Service – Distinguished Research Award

v      Dennis E. Burson, University of Nebraska – Distinguished Extension-Industry Service Award

v      Steven J. Jones, University of Nebraska-Lincoln – Distinguished Teaching Award

v      F.C. Parrish, Jr., Iowa State University – Intercollegiate Meat Judging Meritorious Award

v      Jason K. Apple, University of Arkansas – Achievement Award

v      Elisabeth Huff-Lonergan, Iowa State University - Achievement Award

v      Steven M. Lonegan, Iowa State University - Achievement Award

v      Tracy L. Coperhafer, Michigan State University – Outstanding Undergraduate Award

v      John W. Ellebracht, Texas A&M University - Outstanding Undergraduate Award

v      Wendy C. Palmore, Texas Tech University - Outstanding Undergraduate Award

v      Rachel A. Postin, University of Georgia - Outstanding Undergraduate Award

v      Keith R. Underwood, Texas Tech University - Outstanding Undergraduate Award

v      Roxanne C. Wagner, South Dakota State University - Outstanding Undergraduate Award

v      Dale R. Woerner, Texas Tech University - Outstanding Undergraduate Award


Congratulations to all!


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NMA - East: 1400 - 16th St. N.W., Suite 400, Washington D.C. 20036 Ph. (202) 667-2108

NMA - West: 1970 Broadway, Suite 825, Oakland, CA 94612 Ph. (510) 763-1533 Fax (510) 763-6186


Edited by Kiran Kernellu

September 23, 2002




 The News Hour with Jim Lehrer aired a report on “Bad Beef” Friday evening, September 20 that included a Colorado woman who reportedly became ill from eating beef produced by ConAgra that was part of the first recall in June 2002.


USDA Under Secretary for Food Safety Elsa Murano, responding to how best to manage recalls said that the fastest way to recover product in a recall is to work through the company that has the records of where it went, as in the present system. With respect to the ConAgra recall initiated this summer, Dr. Murano confirmed that the Office of Inspector General has it under investigation. Dr. Gary Smith of Colorado State University reported that everything that is possible is being done to make beef safer, including the utilization of steam and hot water pasteurization and other interventions. Dr. Dell Allen, Vice President of Cargill-Excel, reported on the on-going monitoring to prevent contamination.


Carol Tucker Foreman of the Consumer Federation of America expressed amazement over the government doing so little testing of end product, irrespective of whether the industry has the right process. She suggested that 5,000 samples a year, (under the testing program initiated in October 1994), is a “joke.”


Dr. Murano said that the Bush Administration recognized the need to improve the system, and has trained Consumer Safety Officers who are experts in HACCP to visit plants to make sure that HACCP plans are adequate and working.




USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) reported that in 2000, the food and fiber marketing system accounted for 7.7% of the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) and employed over 12% of the U.S. labor force. In 2000, over 80% of the U.S. food dollar went towards marketing services added after the product left the farm, such as transportation, processing, distribution, labor, packaging, and energy.

For more on the vital role of the food marketing system in the U.S. economy, visit the full report on line at




The Texas investment firm, Hicks, Muse, Tate and Furst, and other investors including Booth Creek Management Corp. (controlled by George Gillett, Jr.) are today the new majority owners of ConAgra Foods fresh meat business.  The new owners reportedly own 56% of the fresh meat business which includes not only six fresh beef operations in the United States, but also the largest pork processor in the United States, , a major lamb processing business and Australia Meat Holdings (AMH), Australia’s largest beef processor and exporter.


Swift & Co. is a venerable name in the archives of the meat industry, a firm founded by Gustavus Swift in 1855. The evolution of Monfort to ConAgra to Swift & Co. is completed. ConAgra continued to carry the Swift name for its pork processing. Another irony pointed out by Cattle Buyers Weekly was that ConAgra acquired beef processor Swift Independent Packing Co. in 1987, merging it at that time with Monfort of Colorado which it bought a year earlier, and expunged the Swift name.


NMA looks forward to working with the new Swift & Co.


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The General Accounting Office (GAO) has released its August 2002 report, “Better USDA Oversight and Enforcement of Safety Rules Needed to Reduce Risk of Foodborne Illnesses.” The report states “FSIS is not ensuring that all plants’ HACCP plans meet regulatory requirements and, as a result, consumers may be unnecessarily exposed to unsafe foods that can cause foodborne illnesses.” Recommendations include: FSIS inspectors better ensure that plants’ HACCP plans fully meet regulatory requirements, FSIS inspectors and district officials have consistent criteria for identifying repetitive violations, and plants act promptly and effectively to correct violations.


In a letter dated August 26, 2002, William J. Hudnall, then Acting Administrator of FSIS, wrote, “we believe that the report does not fully acknowledge [FSIS’s] progress and continuous efforts to fully ensure that all plants meet regulatory requirements.” Hudnall later wrote, “The GAO report noted what appeared to be inconsistent implementation of HACCP. Similar observations made earlier by FSIS officials resulted in several directives and notices being prepared to provide supplemental guidance and clarification of existing policies and requirements.” The GAO acknowledged, “USDA describes a number of actions that FSIS has recently taken or is planning to take that are consistent with [GAO’s] recommendations. Many of these actions, if fully carried out, may go a long way toward addressing the problems [GAO] found in FSIS’s oversight and enforcement of HACCP.” According to an article in the National Chicken Council Washington Report, Dr. Elsa Murano, USDA under secretary for food safety, said “Many of the weaknesses highlighted by the GAO were ones also documented by [her] new leadership team. Importantly, [they] have already begun addressing the issues identified.”


The report can be viewed at NMA members may request a copy of the full report by contacting Kiran Kernellu at (510) 763-1533 or [email protected]. Please send a self-addressed, stamped ($2.44) envelope and the newsletter date with requests by mail.




A revision reportedly in the final stages of review will likely address a major policy shift by FSIS. The Agency is expected to identify O157:H7 as a food safety hazard reasonably likely to occur in raw ground beef and trimmings intended to be utilized for raw ground products. Members may recall that FSIS used a similar approach to address the finding  of Listeria monocytogenes in ready-to-eat products. Positive findings for O157:H7 will necessitate a reassessment of an establishment’s HACCP plan and will most likely require the establishment to adopt a critical control point (CCP) to address the hazard reasonably likely to occur.


Failure to do so may automatically render the HACCP plan inadequate, subjecting the establishment to enforcement action. It’s probable that FSIS will expect periodic verification of the CCP by testing the product for E. coli O157:H7. In review of such test data, FSIS will consider what the establishment does with results. Therefore, establishments should consider developing a guideline to address and document their reassessment process.


With regard to plants that are conducting 100% testing programs for combos of trim we recommend that they continue doing so as a means of minimizing the possibility that a recall would be expanded to raw material trimmings destined for raw products.


NMA’s Washington-based counsel, Olsson, Frank & Weeda, provided a memorandum about what is expected. NMA members may request a copy of the memorandum by contacting Kiran Kernellu at (510) 763-1533 or [email protected].